The world premiere and grand opening of Disneyland, the Southern California tourist attraction, where vacation dreams have come true for almost 54 years,where the concept of a theme park was created and , some might say, perfected, was truly a made for television event.
Super-showman and master marketer, Walt Disney, was the first movie mogul to create original content for network television. His family anthology series, entitled Disneyland,, and named for the family recreation park he dreamed of building in Anaheim,Orange County, California, debuted on Wednesday,October 27, 1954 and was broadcast by the nascent ABC-TV network.
The 60 minute, weekly series, telecast in black and white, was a major hit with viewers young and old. It ran on ABC until 1961, when Disney struck a deal to move the show to NBC,to re-title it as Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color and to produce the program in LIVING COLOR.It was a Sunday night institution for family viewing over the decades to follow.
Over the years , the series would offer original animated programs, multi-episode scripted series, like Davy Crockett, re-edited versions of Disney's vaunted, theatrical films, and nature documentaries , shot around the globe. Not only did he use the television show to create a pristine, family oriented brand for Walt Disney Studios, but he leveraged it as a mass platform to market his theme park, preview his studio's new,film releases, and to sell untold millions of dollars in merchandise.
On July 17, 1955 Walt Disney studios and ABC-TV joined to produce an ambitious, LIVE television special, called DATELINE: DISNEYLAND ( no relation to the NBC News magazine series). This program celebrated the opening of what could only be viewed as Disney's greatest achievement , to date: the opening of his wholesome, multi-theme,multi-venue, adventure theme park.
Anyone in America who could tune their television to the local ABC-TV station was invited.This was no easy feat in 1955 , when so many of them were UHF stations, and televisions required set-top adaptors to receive their signals.
The clips posted below show the showbiz luminaries of the time, ranging from Art Linkletter to Fess Parker to Danny Thomas, who joined Disney, along with thousands of opening day patrons to open the gates to the happiest place on earth. The logistics of doing this vast, sprawling , LIVE program with 1955 technology is impressive.Enjoy!!!!!!!!
Here is a bonus clip: Art Linletter brings you a commercial for Kodak cameras and film that aired during an ABC-TV special entitled Kodak presents Disneyland' 59.Enjoy!!!!